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Nvidia on the Road to Success with Autonomous Driving ‘AI’ Chip

Nvidia hasn’t had a wonderful time recently, what with the imploding cryptocurrency scene causing its stock to plunge — lower virtual-coin prices mean reduced demand for Nvidia’s graphics processors, which are used in cryptocurrency mining — but here’s a spot of good news for the U.S. chipmaker.

The company announced Wednesday that it has inked deals with three Chinese electric car companies to develop technology for their products’ autonomous-driving capabilities.

The companies, XPeng Motors, Singulato Motors and SF Motors, join a lengthy list of customers of Nvidia’s Xavier “artificial intelligence” chip, which is designed for autonomous vehicles. Other auto manufacturers to develop Xavier-powered systems include Uber, Baidu, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Audi.

According to Reuters, XPeng will build so-called Level 3 autonomous capabilities into cars as of 2020. Level 3 autonomy allows cars to drive by themselves, but require the driver to also stay alert and ready to take control — this functionality is already available in Audi’s new A8.

Singulato, meanwhile, will start with Level 3 and at some point upgrade to Level 4 autonomy, in which drivers are free to take a nap as long as the car is traversing normal, mapped roads. Sweden’s Volvo — yes, another Xavier customer — plans to release a Level 4-capable car by 2021.